As the potential to work remotely increases, so do the number of employees who want the option to work from home, or, at the very least, a flexible schedule from their employer.
Remote work, generally considered work-from-home or at a location other than the company’s office, holds great appeal to many.
Seventy-four percent of knowledge workers say they would quit their job to work from home, according to The Remote Work Report by Zapier, an automation app company with an entirely remote workforce.
“Many employers used to be apprehensive about remote work,” said Wade Foster, co-founder and CEO of Zapier, which employs nearly 300 people in 27 countries. “When we started Zapier as a remote company in 2011, I used to get all kinds of weird looks when I mentioned we were remote. Now remote work is all the rage.“
SEE: Managing remote workers: A business leader’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Nearly one in four (26%) of knowledge workers (adults 18 or older who work in a professional setting and use a computer) have quit a job in the past because the company didn’t offer the option to work remotely or with a flexible work schedule, the report found.
Woof! (Or meow): Almost one in five want to work remotely because they want to spend more time with their pets.
Money, family and mobility drive interest in remote work
Nearly everyone in the US workforce (95%) seemingly wants to work from home, for a variety of reasons, according to the report.
Top 5 reasons knowledge workers want to work remotely
- To save money (48%)
- To have the ability to work from anywhere (47%)
- To spend more time with family (44%)
- More productive at home (35%)
- Better for mental health (29%)
More reasons to work from home
The remaining reasons they would like to work remotely:
- It’s more environmentally sustainable (23%)
- Spend more time with pets (18%)
- Relocate somewhere more affordable (16%)
- Make it easier when they start a family (16%)
- Care for aging parents (16%)
“Clearly, flexibility and autonomy play a large role in a job,” Foster said. “There’s a benefit to employers, too. We’ve seen firsthand that good remote work policies drive productivity and retention among employees.”
More and more jobs can be done from anywhere, he said, adding that employers stuck in the 1980s and ’90s need to adjust because the competition is ready to do what it can to keep their prized employees.
“Offering the option to work remotely helps with employee retention,” said Foster. “People love the ability to flex their schedule, even just one day a week. The ability to work from home also signals to employees that they’re trusted to remain productive and deliver results.”
He pointed to startups like Zapier, Buffer, Gitlab, and Invision, which operate without a single office or HQ. Larger companies are also beginning to introduce remote work policies. “Modern tools and technology allow teams to work across countries and time zones and still feel cohesive and collaborative, Foster said.
Remote work is a clear competitive advantage, he added, “and if more employers want to attract and retain talent, they’ll have to take a hard look at their remote work policies.”
More productive at home
Many employees (42%) believe they are most productive working from home, while less than a third (32%) feel they get more work done in the office.
Women value working from home more, but are less likely to have the option. Women are also more likely than men to say the option to work remotely is the perk they would most prefer to be offered by an employer (62% vs. 53%) yet, despite this, there are significant gender disparities for work-from-home options. A surprising 40% of female employees say they don’t work remotely because their company doesn’t allow it compared to just 25% of men.
“Technology has come a long way to make communication between employers and remote workers easier than ever,” Foster said. “Tools like Zoom make conference calls clear and reliable, and apps like Slack make real-time communication easy among a completely distributed workforce. These tools allow remote employees to stay engaged, and makes it easier for employees to feel more connected to their remote teams.”
SEE: Slack: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
The majority of workers believe the traditional workplace will be obsolete within the next decade, with most positions done remotely. Roughly two in three knowledge workers (66%) believe that the traditional office setting will be obsolete for most roles by 2030.
Nearly one in three US knowledge workers say they don’t work remotely because their company doesn’t allow it. With more than a quarter of people saying they’ve already left a job that doesn’t allow remote work for one that does, employers big and small are will need to re-evaluate their flexible work policies, and make sure they have processes conducive to remote work in place.
“Remote work is here to stay,” Foster said. “This is something we’ve known for a long time at Zapier, but the data proves this isn’t a fleeting trend.”
For more, check out How to land a remote job, and thrive in it on TechRepublic.
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